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Tie vote could leave council size at status quo

PEC-council-2015---600

Front row: (left to right) Roy Pennell, Jim Dunlop, Dianne O’Brien, Mayor Robert Quaiff, Janice Maynard, Barry Turpin, Treat Hull Back row: Steven Graham, Bill Roberts, Steven Ferguson, David Harrison, Brad Nieman, Kevin Gale, Jamie Forrester, Lenny Epstein, Gordon Fox

 

OCT 29 – A tie vote leaves the size of council at staus quo unless there’s a change of votes at council’s regular meeting Nov. 10.

At Thursday night’s special council meeting, Mayor Robert Quaiff’s two-ward plan to downsize council to 10 plus a mayor received the least support from his council, but was the favoured concept in the public consultations and surveys.

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff

In his bid to keep a campaign promise Quaiff initiated the review in April and provided reports including the history of the issue and excerpts from the Citizen’s Assembly Final Report.

The issue began in 2008 when a “Composition of Council Committee” was established and created a report containing various options for a council comprised of 10 councillors and a mayor. Following was a Petition of Electors requesting a bylaw to restructure to six wards and reduce council to two councillors per ward and a mayor.

Further, an OMB hearing led to a 2010 ballot question “Are you in favour of Council commencing a public consultation process to review the size of Council for the County of Prince Edward?”

The municipality issued a Request for Proposal for Consultant Services and the Citizens Assembly was established and recommended – in Sept. 2013 – that council be reduced to 10 councillors and a mayor.

In May 2015, by a vote of nine to seven, the size of council issue was to move forward.

Thursday’s tie vote, Quaiff said, was not unexpected but he is also looking forward to moving on. (Who voted what unavailable at time of publishing)

“I called this long ago,” said Quaiff. “The display this evening was one of continued passion about downsizing even though my plan received the least support from council but was the favoured of the surveys.

“It’s unfortunate but I’ll be relieved when we can move forward and concentrate on the bigger issues we are burdened with like infrastructure, health care, water and sewage rates, high speed internet, affordable housing etc.”

Survey says: Two and three ward options preferred to reduce council size

OCT. 28 – Results of the recent public consultation process indicate the two electoral ward boundary proposal (11 members) and the three electoral ward boundary proposal (13 members) are the top two preferred options to reduce the size of Prince Edward County’s 16-member council and establish new electoral ward boundaries.

Mayor Robert Quaiff called Thursday night’s Special Committee of the Whole Meeting to consider the 128-page report from the Corporate Services and Finance Commission following September’s consultation sessions and surveys on the ‘Size of Council and Electoral Ward Boundaries’.

Attendance at the public consultation sessions ranged from 15 to 40 people (not including council members, staff or facilitators).

Among comments was a request for distinction between ward boundaries and historic township boundaries. The clarification was: The creation of the new wards is for election purposes only and does not dissolve the historic township boundaries created by parliament. Think of the electoral ward boundaries as being laid over the existing township boundaries.

Surveys were available at the sessions, on the County website and at the libraries, municipal offices and fire hall. They requested a ranking of the four proposals in order of preference.

There were 649 surveys received.

2 Electoral Ward option received 302 or 46.5 per cent as the first choice (2.72
weighted average)

3 Electoral Ward Option received 310 votes or 47.8 per cent as the second choice (2.73 weighted average)

9 Electoral Ward Option received 341 votes or 52.5 per cent as the third choice (2.52 weighted average)

10 Electoral Ward option (Status Quo) received 370 votes or 57 per cent as the
fourth choice.

A recap of surveys not ranked in order of preference is also to be provided by the clerk’s office.

survey-says

Deputations Thursday are also scheduled to be heard from Gary Mooney related to his three ward proposal and from Pierre M. Klein to address council regarding a new 10 electoral ward boundary proposal. Klein’s proposal was received at the Oct. 15 meeting of council though noted it was well after the June 4 deadline.

Council will consider further investigation to determine if the two proposals meet the following criteria:

a) Odd number of council members;
b) Voter parity;
c) Equitable distribution of population;
d) Respect identifiable communities of interest;
e) Utilize natural physical boundaries;
f) Serve the larger public interest.

Results of the investigation would be brought forward to the council meeting.

Following the selection of a preferred proposal staff would bring forward bylaws which could come into effect at the 2018 municipal election.

Despite more than seven years invested, if a change is finally made, appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board may be made within 45 days after the bylaw is passed.

The following were the options:

– 2 electoral wards – 10 councillors and mayor

– 3 electoral wards – 12 councillors and mayor

– 9 electoral wards – 13 councillors and mayor

– 10 electoral wards (Status Quo) -15 councillors and mayor

TWO ELECTORAL WARDS:

Two-Electoral-Wards-Map

2-Wards-RobertQuaiffProsandCons_000

 

THREE ELECTORAL WARDS:

Three-Electoral-Ward-Map

Three-Wards-GaryMooneyProsandCons_000

NINE ELECTORAL WARDS:

Nine-Electoral-Ward-Map

Nine-Ward-JohnThompsonProsandCons_000

STATUS QUO:

Status Quo Ten-Ward-Map

StatusQuoProsandCons_000

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  1. Chuck says:

    And that provides voter equity? Not!

  2. Snowman says:

    The easiest way to stop all the tie votes is to join Bloomfield with Hallowell. That would address the biggest
    inequity ,where a candidate is elected with usually less than 200 votes and represents perhaps 4-500 voters.
    Gives an uneven number of Council members.
    Then put a very clear question of yea or nea on the 2018 ballot. Eliminating Bloomfield as a ward could be done easily enough to make it effective for the 2018 elecction

  3. Chuck says:

    Marilyn, they might need that new fire truck to put out the fire at Council tonight!

  4. Marilyn Ives says:

    The people have spoken too many times over the last few years and only a few on Council listen to the public. The 8 Councilors that reject everything (as leave it alone) should be made to pay for the OMB costs and the costs to the public ever since it has been on the books. Then see how this newly and still standing Countil think of their voting privileges. Are they not responsible to the tax paying public….. then start to act like they are working for the taxpayers. Get to work and start to get something done rather than sitting in your Council chair representing themselves. Shame, Shame, Shame Prince Edward County Council.

  5. Fred says:

    At least tomorrow night we will not have Forrester chairing and cutting off debate in an attempt to ram through his status Quo and deny the residents equality.

  6. Chuck says:

    I am very disappointed that some Councilors would ignore the public wishes and to the extent they eliminated the most popular 2 Ward Plan right off the bat. So much for community input. However I am excited by the fact that an OMB hearing will be filed and the result will be voter parity being dictated.

  7. Susan says:

    Even the 3 Ward plan under consideration is too large at 13. It does provide voter parity however which is critical to fairness.

  8. Emily says:

    So David, you cannot find a single person who wants change and have equal voting rights. Those 80+% that requested a review in the 2010 election must have all moved away or died! I suspect if you come to Council tomorrow night you just might find one of those elusive residents that are not happy with status Quo and a glut of 16 around the horseshoe. Why do you object to voter parity and a reduction of the ridiculous size of the present Council?

  9. David says:

    Further to my last message, the people I have spoken with are varied….life long residents, newer residents, retired and working, professional, blue collar. Just on my street at least 10 couples all think it is a waste of time. $1,000.000 aerial truck. From several firefighter friends….a complete waste of money on a truck that is too impractical for rural use. Contact every councillor, no matter who you voted for. This expenditure will be approved tomorrow night the 10th. Speak up!

  10. Emily says:

    I called it a narrow minority group as I found it unbelievable that he had not spoken to a single individual who wanted change. And what important things presently trump the democratic right to voter parity? New aerial fire truck at $1,000,000? If you give up your right to voter parity you have lost a lot in providing representation by population and equally deciding the decision makers.

  11. Ian says:

    Emily. I guess that makes me a member of a narrow minority group too. I agree with David. It’s time to tackle more important things.

  12. Emily says:

    David, it must be quite a narrow minority group you speak with if you have not encountered anyone who is desirous of change and voter parity. And Lyn, out of the 47% that took the interest to vote, I believe some where in the range of 80% wanted council size reviewed. I don’t think those 80% were looking for status quo. I strongly believe each residents vote should carry comparable weight. The present voting system is diluted and unfair.

  13. David says:

    Like windmills, this topic is worn out. I talk to a lot of County residents on a regular basis, and no one I speak with, especially those who have lived here their whole life see this as a issue worth any more discussion. I studied politicall science and still am not convinced that it matters how many councillors that we can actually vote for. Every councillor represents all of us. In fact it has been my experience when I approach council with a question or provide some input, I always get responses from councillors, but not my own ward reps.. Instead I hear back from others, and they have gotten results! You can hold referendums all you like, but the truth is most of us want this topic to be dropped! Good for the councillors who stand up for what they believe in. That takes courage.

  14. LYN says:

    Good point Paul. The OMB accepted our ward set up and it was considered one a poster child. I do not understand why some people are pushing radical ward changes. I believe there was a study and there are no real cost saving to the constituents. I have attended many meetings and spoke to my councilors about this.
    It appears to me that we do stand to lose local representation.
    It is ridiculous to accuse councilors of protecting their jobs when they work hard and get very little remuneration for what they do. Council held public meetings, and they were to be considered as well as the survey. The survey represents only about 2% of the population and it does not represent the entire population. As a matter of fact, it does not indicate what areas voted, and this is one of the issues with large wards. The more urban areas can be accessed more easily and the rural areas are more difficult to engage and represent. It is important to know how areas feel. The OMB also considers community of interest as well as population. A minority or outreaching areas should have input to decisions as well. That is the problem with large wards and drastically reducing representation. You will lose your relationship with your councilor that is familiar with you and your community. I personally think that if there is no cost saving, that is a huge disadvantage. it also will make it more costly and time consuming to campaign as a councilor with large wards and they may want a pay rise to offset that. It also will make it difficult to attract young and senior and low income candidates, who may have the time, but not the resources to campaign.
    There was a petition given to Council with over 900 names in favour of retaining the present system. Surely that is as much an indicator of the constituents as much or more than the survey.
    The vote put on the ballot at the election was voted on by less that 47% of the electorate. The vote was in favour of reviewing council size and many people thought that might result in cost savings. The question put on the ballot could have more explicit but, in any event it did not give Council a mandate to change the size of Council.
    So it appears to me that the down side is outweighed by the benefits. Many of the Councilors who are against downsizing have had a great deal of experience on Council, while it appears that many of the Councilors looking for change are newer and maybe there is something to learn from experience and knowledge.

  15. Mark says:

    Councilor Roberts brings a lot of common sense to this matter.

  16. Gary says:

    Just read the Wellington Times article on this debacle. One has to wonder if the report is accurate if Councilor Fox is up to speed! How could he not realize the potential impacts of an OMB? And on another note what does the former councilor Alyea really have to offer. Her record is not far forgotten.

  17. Fred says:

    When are we going to get live Council meetings broadcasted? It’s time for us to be able to see how issues are being decided. Council chambers certainly can’t hold the public that want to see the vote Nov.10th.

  18. Chuck says:

    Harrison & Forrester just do not comprehend the inequities. After hearing them at Council I believe the issues are beyond their reasoning. For the trio from Ameliasburgh it is nothing more than retaining selfish power at the expense of those less represented.

  19. Mark says:

    It is all so silly but seriously it calls into question the capabilities of the Councilors. Every Councilor is making serious County wide decisions that affect us all. But we do not all have equal representation at the horse shoe. How is that so difficult to understand.

  20. Lena says:

    Very disappointed in my councillor Dave HARRISON for voting for status quo with 7 other councillors. Was hoping this new council was a fresh change that listened to it’s constituents. Is there something in the air at Sire Hall that turns people who talk intelligently when campaigning, into self-serving drones when they sit in session?

  21. Susan says:

    Have any of the 8 made a public statement to defend why they are rejecting the legal right to voter parity? And why they they feel they have the right to ignore public opinion?

  22. Fred says:

    The “Status Quo 8” will be feeling heat Tuesday night. They are stuck out in the swamp and looking for something, anything that can help them get out! The OMB hearing and actions taken outside of County control will be on them. The Mayor’s proposal was sound.

  23. ADJ says:

    Why are Councillors voting on this issue anyways? Seems to me it shouldn’t be their choice.Obvious it’s all about keeping their jobs and not what they were elected for. The voting public are the ones affected. Let the voter decide. Oh, wait, that was done already! So, run the poll again and possibly a 2nd + 3rd time if necessary.Those voters truly interested will respond. Then an average can be taken to settle it all. Too many of the councillors are interested in only saving their own little warm seat. Stupidity and embarrassing!

  24. Mark says:

    I understand that feeling Marnie. It’s like a strategy to bore and cause disinterest. But to go to the public, ask for input and then throw their most preferred choice in the garbage and select the least desired option of status quo is inexcusable. They have lost trust.

  25. Marnie says:

    I cared too at one point Mark but after the issue dragged on and on with no resolution it seemed apparent that most councillors liked the status quo and were asking for public input with no real intention of heeding it. It’s difficult to care when being ignored.

  26. Paul Cole says:

    I think we all care about our County after all it is a great place to be. This issue should have been dealt with during amalgamation, almost everything done about it to this point has been a waste of time and money. An OMB decision will cost money and we may end up with something that someone else thinks is best for The County, We basically lose control. The real problem from my point of view anyways seems to be our faith in the elected officials we put in place every four years. I just hope it gets settled one way or another so council can focus on MORE important issues……

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